It seems like winter has arrived a bit earlier than usual this year, sneaking up into the Thanksgiving season, but this doesn’t mean that your fishing season has to come to a halt. Throughout the winter, many fish continue to feed and remain active, which means you should be out there trying to feed them!
Layers, Layers, Layers
If you ask any seasoned cold weather outdoors person, they will tell you that a bulletproof layering system is a key to staying warm and dry throughout the winter. To start, you should never have a cotton layer next to your skin, cotton will not stay warm when it takes in the moisture generated by your skin.
If you need any more convincing, just ask Tribe Ambassador Shyanne Orvis, “I remember when I moved to Colorado, my layers consisted of cotton tee-shirts and hoodies. A HUGE no-no. Honestly, It made for miserable adventures, me wearing 20 layers and still calling it quits early. Technical layers are fundamental if you want to actually enjoy yourself during your winter activities.”
Your base layer should either be a wool blend or a technical fabric like polypropylene or Capilene. These fabrics offer superior warmth-to-weight and wick moisture away from your skin. The next layers are truly up to you and the cold you’re facing, but like in the rest of life, building your system off a strong base is imperative!
Gloves and, a Hand Towel
Keeping a dry set of gloves and a hand towel in your waders or pack can be a true lifesaver on the water in the colder months. Wet skin is cold skin when the temperatures dip, and if you’re out there slaying fish, your hands are going to get wet. The towel is meant to dry them off quickly, and the gloves are there to warm them back up before you get back to casting. We like to keep the hand towel inside our layers to keep it warm and dry it off before we need it again.
Warm Hats are Game-Changers
You’re going to lose a lot of body heat if you leave your noggin exposed, especially in the cold and wet of winter. Tossing a thick beanie on your head or using an insulated hood will help you retain precious body heat and stay warmer for longer in the elements.
Treat Your Rod Guides
When the temperatures dip below 32 F, ice is going to start accumulating on your guides, this can cause a few problems for you as the angler, shortening your casts and if it’s persistent enough, cause you to lose a big fish in the snow. But you can avoid all these headaches by treating your rod guides the night before you head out on the water.
The easiest way to prevent iced-up guides is to coat them with a hydrophobic (read: sheds water) coating so water won’t even have the chance to form into ice on your guides. The easiest (and cheapest) way to do this is to spray down your guides with PAM cooking spray. Designed to prevent anything from sticking to cookware, PAM is perfect for coating rod guides. We recommend laying your rod out on top of paper towels and spraying a few coats of the spray onto the guides allowing time to dry in between.
If you notice your guides icing up after a few hours on the water, a super quick way to retreat them is to goop some good old fashioned ChapStick onto the guide, the wax will help prevent further icing.
Dan Zazworsky’s passion is sharing his love of fly fishing with anyone that will listen, read or watch. You can find him exploring new waters every day while chasing any fish that will eat a fly!